Peter Hurley's "Squinch" Helps To Make Better Headshots

You would have to be from Mars not to know who Peter Hurley is at this point. He was one of the first photographers to let Fstoppers into his studio, and together we produced the wildly popular The Art Behind The Headshot tutorial where he shares all of his secrets. Today Peter is publicly sharing perhaps his most important tip for making people look good in front of your camera, and it is appropriately named "squinching."

A typical "Hurleyism", Squinching is a made up word for something Peter has been trying to explain for years. Peter argues that when people have wide eyes they look vulnerable, scared, fearful, and overall uncertain. Those qualities usually do not work well for headshots which typically need to portray confidence, approachability, mystery, and intrigue. For Peter's actor clients, they only have one chance to show off their personality to a casting agent, so they need to look their best. And what Peter has found is people look their best with a slight bit of squint in their eyes. The results are pretty amazing.



As you can see, Peter has taken each of his clients from an uncomfortable state in front of his camera to an ultra suave, cool looking demeanor. Now you might be saying that this technique is obvious but the bad news is most of your clients have never heard of this technique. What is even worse is you are going to get really bad results if you simply tell them to squint. The good news, however, is if you can teach your clients the Squinch, you will drastically improve the overall vibe your clients are giving the camera instantly!. And don't think this technique only works for actors; I've been using this technique for everyone who finds themselves in front of my camera. That means brides, friends, models, families, musicians, and....well everyone!


If you enjoyed this tip, check out Peter's first viral video below where he talks about creating stronger jawlines in your work. Nothing is worse than having a double chin and Peter shows you exactly how you can get rid of that in 90% of your clients.

If you want to learn every technique from Peter Hurley in person, Peter will be teaching at our first ever 2014 Fstoppers Workshop hosted at the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas. Check out Peter's full class schedule here and watch the video below to see other learning opportunities in paradise!

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I always called it the Smize ('smile with your eyes' coined by Tyra Banks if you didn't know)... a lot of gals know what that means, but not so much the guys. I think squinch sounds more legit though. Ha. I'll have to try it.

never say smize. never ever.

Also, there is a difference between smize and squinching as squinching gives a more thoughtful intense look while smizing is a more happy, commercial look.

I guess it depends on what type of shoot you're doing!

I used to hate ANTM, until I realized that it was pure gold for photographers. (I have a deal with my clients: any time I say "smile", I pay them $10.)

E Port's picture

Peter reminds me of that personal trainer in the gym motivating you to push out that last rep. So much gusto!

Noam Galai's picture

Peter is the best

Yeah, I always tell the people I'm shooting with to do that, but I usually use the term "dim your eyes". Even some more experienced models usually start with the deer in headlights look for the first few shots of the session

Lately I've been telling models to look like they're trying to see something far off in the distance. That works well to. Also gets them to focus on a point you can assign.

In his DVD, Hurley uses the situation where your are trying to read the last line of letter at the eye doctor (can't translate the term... sorry!).

Pretty usefull!

Karl-Filip Karlsson's picture

I will show this video every time BEFORE i shoot the model! ;)

Jake Brown's picture

This dude is blowing my mind

Adam T's picture

Am I the only one who remembers why you are suppose to say cheese?

I've been doing this for years. Didn't know it was or wasn't already a "thing." ::sigh:: oh well


AHHHH! The “Squinch” - saved my life!

Am I the only one thinking this is complete BS? looks like he basically "instruct" the models to wide open their eyes to an unnatural extreme state, then tell them to close down a bit. Come on. And the last Asian woman photo, the "before" (straight on) one is just perfect as it is.

plus, whenever I hear a guy referring his own instruction as "unbelievable", I can't take him too serious. All his talking about is just common sense, if you need to watch his video to learn about how to hide the double chin, you probably never really pay attention to your work.

Michael Wessel's picture

He'll even through in a free set of steak knives!

The middle one, the guy just goes from serious face to smiling, the "squinch" doesn't make a difference.

I guess the real lesson here would be "learn to read your subject and adjust".

Absofreakinlutely. My thoughts the entire time watching this video.

If Anyone wants to see a classic headshot/body posing tutorial, this is the best one I ever saw, Classical Posing & Portrait Lighting by Frank Dispensa, it will be worth your every minutes:

Lee Christiansen's picture

Now THIS is a tutorial...!

Detailed explanations. easily followed direction, clear differences between poses and stunning results...

And not a Schazam, squizzle, smizel, "unbelievable" or "awesome" to be heard...

Quality viewing - it's going in my bookmarks list.

Turtle your neck out a little bit and tip your head down a little.

totaly squinching at work getting wierd looks :P

Always thought this was called squinting... Oh well!

Tyra calls it Smizing!

Now I know what is wrong with that picture of me... ;-)

So long time without so nice to observe and to listen a showman and… SHABAAAANG!
Thank you, that is impressive!

Love Peter Hurleys work, But the Term Smizing(smiling with your eyes) was coined by Tyra Banks many years ago. I perfer the Term Smize because it connotes Emotion, actually giving the subject purpose , vs. "Squinching" which kinda sounds like a exercise to firm and tone your butt!! Just my opinion.

chummy tamayao's picture

Shabaaang !!! tnx hurley !!!